A school shooting changes dozens of lives.
Ginny is crouching under a desk in her homeroom, like the rest of her classmates. An unknown shooter attacked right after the start of school, wounding their substitute teacher and Ginny’s crush, Owen, and putting the school on lockdown. As the hours pass, the Canadian teens from a town outside Toronto, all apparently white, struggle to cope. The situation makes Ginny, a cutter who began self-harming after her father’s death, wish for a razor. But a new friend helps: Kayla, a cheerleader Ginny has always dismissed as a Barbie and who happens to have an uncanny amount of medical knowledge for a teenager who volunteers at a veterans’ hospital. Together, they work to keep their fellow students safe until they can be rescued—but will it be in time for the injured? While Ginny’s first-person narration and the Twitter posts at the end of each chapter help to build suspense, the plot digressions to Ginny’s dead gay uncle, her former best friend, and her stunned realization about a classmate’s sexuality dissipate that tension and undercut the seriousness. In addition, the clunky dialogue and short length do not allow the characters to feel like realistic teens. The treatment of sexual orientation in the portrayals of two gay teens, one whom girls try to “convert” while the other is outed by a gay peer, raises troubling questions.
A slight, stilted take on a weighty issue. (Fiction. 12-16)